Progress with actual construction
of a man-carrying craft....
Yes.... we know.... this is the section you all want to see.... "Are they just talking about it, or are they actually going to do it?"
Well, give us a chance - Rome wasn't built in a day - we are moving steadily forward!
So far we have completed the building of a balloon envelope intended and suitable to be filled with steam, and we are setting about building a ground boiler and associated equipment. We have not yet started work on the insulating jacket or the flight boiler, but plans are well advanced.
Terry Price is a legend in the UK ballooning world. We were very lucky to obtain her services for building our balloon..... The material we have used is the Gelvenor material described here. The volume of our envelope is 600 m3 and the area is 400 m2. It is very strongly constructed.
Here Terry is slaving away over a hot sewing machine.....
This is the final result..... laid out in the park, but not (yet) inflated....
Through the good offices of Philip Hopes, we have obtained an electrically powered blower originally used for inflating bouncy castles. It certainly blows one hell of a blast of air! We have equipped it with an air piping system intended for cold inflation of the envelope, as shown below:
At the end of the piping you can also see a zip-on sealing unit we have made to seal the bottom end of the Steam Balloon. Remember, it is more like a gas balloon than a hot-air balloon - the bottom mustn't be left open, because the steam would escape. Yet it is necessary to drain out the condensed water. This unit allows water to drain out while keeping steam in, and furthermore incorporates a large-diameter connector for filling the envelope with steam in the first place, as well as a small-diameter connector for keeping the envelope topped up with steam while flying.
Moreover, the above blower will also be ideal for providing forced draft for the huge ground boiler that we are getting our courage together to make; see the program-for-the-future section of this site. So far, we have had the end plates for our ground boiler made. They are quite impressive!
These end plates are made of 6mm mild steel, about a meter square. Each is pierced with a total of 33x33=1089 holes of 22mm diameter for installation of the boiler tubes. These plates were made with a laser cutting system, the operation of which was most impressive.... A lot easier than trying to drill 2178 22mm holes with a pillar drill!
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